State Attorneys General increasingly enforcing workplace rights and helping to make a just transition to renewable energy use

A recent report jointly prepared and issued by Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program and New York University School of Law’s State Energy & Environmental Impact Center underscores the importance of State Attorneys General in the current legal landscape. Like Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, State Attorneys General across the country now lead the way in the public effort to combat wage theft, employee misclassification, joint employment abuses, and related workplace issues. The joint report also analyzes the expanded efforts by State Attorneys General to enforce environmental protection laws that promote sustainable energy use.

Besides cataloguing the numerous initiatives already pursued by State Attorneys General, the joint report makes recommendations about other strategies and tactics to secure both greater workplace fairness and a just transition to an environmentally responsible and economically sustainable future. One of the key recommendations by the authors from Harvard Law School and New York University School of Law emphasizes the importance of increasing the unionization rates in the clean energy sector – that is, in the industries related to solar and/or wind power. Increased unionization can be accomplished by, for example, designating all taxpayer-funded clean energy initiatives as public works projects, using project labor agreements, and adopting the Protecting the Right to Organize (“PRO”) Act passed by the United States House of Representatives last year as well as other labor law reform. Additional recommendations beyond increasing unionization include the adoption of prevailing wage requirements, comprehensive safety protections, and community benefits agreement for all taxpayer-funded clean energy projects.